Four and twenty…

You live and learn. At any rate, you live. – Douglas Adams

I recently had the great good fortune to assist at a baking class held at Della Fattoria, and taught by the inestimable Christa Colardo of Marin Cooking.

The building that Della is located in has been a bakery for over 100 years, and you can see it in every little quirky detail, from the dumbwaiter…

…to the fridge (ever so conveniently located on the second floor).

The focus was baking from the farmers market, and at this time of year, that means only one thing:


In all it’s forms.

So, with everything at our disposal, we got to work.

And I have to say, I was REALLY impressed with what the students made.

At this time of year, when the sun shines just a little softer and the evenings are just a bit cooler, you are allowed to contemplate turning on the oven for a just a little bit, and dream of a perfect pie cooling on your windowsill (handsome stranger: optional). Want to try your hand at it? All you need is one thing: a reliable pie crust.

Now, everyone has their thoughts on pie crust, but for me, it’s nothing but an all butter pate brisee, and lucky for you, I’m willing to share:

Pate Brisee

You will need:

  • 1 medium bowl
  • Plastic wrap


  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour (look, if you don’t have it, don’t worry – just use 1 cups of all purpose flour, it will be just fine)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 6 oz. butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes and chilled
  • 7 tbsp. ice water

In the medium bowl, whisk your flour(s) and salt.

Take your butter out of the fridge, and place it in the bowl. Then, using your fingers, work the butter into the flour until you have a some pieces that are small (like crushed crackers) and some that are a bit bigger (like broken walnuts). The mix of sizes is actually important here (when the butter melts in the oven, it vaporizes, making the flakes everyone is after), so don’t try to get it all even and stuff.

Now, add the water a tablespoon at a time, until the dough is shaggy (you’ll know it when you see it). It should not come together in a ball (if it does, it’s too wet).

Note: You can do all of this in a stand mixer, if you have one at your disposal, but don’t worry, it’s just as delicious if done by hand.

Once your dough is shaggy, put your plastic wrap on the counter, then turn the contents of your bowl out onto the plastic, and gather it all together. Then, fold up the plastic wrap, and push the dough around until it comes together and you don’t have cracks at the edge.

The last step is to let it rest, for at least 30 minutes, but preferably overnight in the fridge.

Then, I dare you to not find reasons to line the nearest pie pan and fill it with whatever you have on hand: peaches, berries, chocolate, quiche lorraine…


One thought on “Four and twenty…

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